Dele Alli risks being pushed aside by Jose Mourinho after Toby Alderweireld fired a warning shot to his Tottenham Hotspur teammate.
Mourinho’s tenure in north London has seen a string of players once favourites under Mauricio Pochettino find themselves shunned to the fringes in the year to have passed since the Argentine’s sacking, one of which was Alderweireld.
The Belgian was a firm fixture of Mourinho’s starting line-ups during the Portuguese’s first 15 Premier League games in charge, but was dropped to the bench in January and would only return to the opening squad following the restart in June.
Alderweireld has now noted in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws how he was able to regain Mourinho’s trust and win back his place in the side, something that Alli could learn from amid their own struggles at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
“Things are going well between Mourinho and me. Everyone has a certain idea of him, that he can be very tough, but if you work for him and go through the fire, then he is really on your side.
“But if you’re going to be annoying because you’re not playing, he’ll push you aside. You have to show it on the field. You can certainly do that in training. There have been times when I sat on the couch and then it was war at home.
“You have to be able to vent your concerns. But at the club, you behave professionally. And there you have to show on the field that they really can’t get around you anymore. That’s how I’ve always done it. You shouldn’t give them sticks to hit with.”
Like Alderweireld was, Alli is now currently living life on the fringes with Mourinho favouring Hojbjerg, Moussa Sissoko and Tanguy Ndombele through the centre restricting the MK Dons product to just six appearances across all competitions.
Mourinho has also opted to omit the 24-year-old from six of his eight top-flight matchday squads, Spurs’ EFL Cup win over Chelsea and one of the north London side’s three Europa League Group Stage ties to date, feeling he can live without the attacking threat of a player Spurs icon Gary Mabbutt believes is capable of producing moments of magic.
“Having watched Dele Alli grow as a player from when he first arrived at the club to where he is now, in a game you don’t deserve to win, he can create a bit of magic, he creates that opportunity for you, or scores a goal for you. He has an incredible potential to be a top player,” Mabbutt exclusively told Football Fancast.
But if Mourinho considers Alli’s off-the-field actions to be a distraction, the midfielder could easily find himself walking the same route that Alderweireld was forced to take in search of a way back from exile.